Working with light

Using outside light inside

Written by Gail Bjork

Outside light can illuminate an inside subject with a natural glow. It yields softer transitions between highlights and shadows than a flash.

Natural lightI’m not a fan of flash photography, especially when using a built-in digital camera flash for inside shots. Photos taken with the tiny built-in flash can appear unnatural and harsh, with dark shadows outlining parts of a subject. Subjects may also have the dreaded red-eye.

A flash certainly has it’s place. However if I have a choice when taking photos inside, I prefer using light from the outside that filters though a window, skylight or open door.

Outside light illuminates a subject with a more natural glow than a flash by yielding a softer transition between highlights and shadows. When mixed with artificial lighting, photos are generally more pleasing.

Natural lighting is useful for photographing a variety of inside subjects including portraits, art and architecture and products.

When using natural light to photograph subjects inside, increasing the camera’s sensitivity may be necessary. Unless you have a newer digital camera with improved ISO performance, try to stick to an ISO number of 200 or less to avoid noise.

When photographing a stationery subject, use a camera support such as a tripod. If you must hand-hold your camera, hold it as steady as possible.

Natural light museumEven inside, outside lighting can be dramatic, particularly in the mornings or late afternoon. As you position your subject, or as you position yourself around the subject, watch how the light falls on it. Don’t take the shot until the light is most flattering. Take plenty of photos, varying the shooting angle.

If one metering mode isn’t effective, switch to another exposure mode. For example, if the light is strong you may need to use spot metering.

The great thing about using a digital camera is that images can be previewed right after they are taken. If you don’t like a photo, retake it until you get satisfactory results.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.